Pacific Living Centers, Inc. “A Loving Home For the Memory Impaired”
You can maintain your sharp mind as you get older by making healthy choices that keep the rest of your body in top form. Follow these tips now to prevent memory loss later.
Exercise your mind
Mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile. One way to do this is to continually challenge yourself by learning new skills. If you continue to learn and challenge yourself, your brain continues to grow, literally. An active brain produces new connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another. This helps your brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter what your age. How can you challenge yourself? Try: Learning to play a musical instrument, playing Scrabble or doing crossword puzzles, interacting with others, switching careers or starting a new one, starting a new hobby – such as crafts, painting, biking or bird-watching, learning a foreign language, volunteering, staying informed about what’s going on in the world or reading.
Stay physically active
Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, including your brain, and might also promote cell growth. Exercise also makes you feel more energetic and alert, and can lower your risk of many diseases. Pick an activity you enjoy, whether it’s doing yard work or walking your dog. Even small increases in your physical activity level can make a difference; park your car farther away and walk the extra distance, take the stairs instead of an elevator, ride a stationary bike when you watch TVâ€”just get moving!
Develop healthy eating habits
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidantsâ€”substances that protect and nourish brain cells. Antioxidants may help prevent cholesterol from damaging the lining of your arteries and slowing blood flow to your brain. In most cases, you’re far more likely to gain health benefits from eating whole foods than by taking supplements, in pill, capsule or other forms.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
People who drink heavily for years can experience permanent brain damage due to poor nutrition, and they’re at higher risk of developing memory problems and dementia. Drink alcohol moderately, if at all. Evidence shows that even moderate alcohol consumption may prevent memory loss, though it isn’t clear how.
Manage your stress
When you’re stressed, your brain releases hormones that can damage your brain if you’re exposed to them for days at a time. Chronic stress can make you feel depressed or anxiousâ€”feelings that can interfere with the way your brain processes memories; so take a break! Even if you have only a few minutes to yourself, use it to breathe deeply and relax. Then look for long-term stress solutions, such as simplifying your life, incorporating exercise or cutting out extra activities.
Protect your head when exercising
Head trauma can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Take precautions to protect your head; for example, wear a helmet when riding your bike.
Smokers may have twice the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease as do people who have never smoked. Stop now–it’s never too late.
Talk to your doctor
Discuss your concerns about memory loss with your doctor. If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, other strategies for preventing that disease might prove helpful to you.
For more information, or to tour a local Alzheimer/Dementia resident care facility, contact a Pacific Living Centers location nearest you.